HC Deb 27 February 1992 vol 204 cc1112-4
Q5. Mr. Ted Garrett

To ask the Prime Minister if he will visit Wallsend.

The Prime Minister

I am making plans for a series of visits to all parts of the country and hope to return to the north-east in the midst of those plans.

Mr. Garrett

I would like the Prime Minister to visit Wallsend because he visited the neighbouring Conservative-held constituency and saw the destruction arising from the Meadowell riots as a result of 13 years of Thatcherism. The Prime Minister would be most welcome to visit the Wallsend part of North Tyneside where he would have an opportunity to visit Swan Hunter and see a dedicated work force, a dedicated management and, above all, the pride of the people in Wallsend in building and refitting ships for the Royal Navy. He would also learn about a series of problems, the main one of which is the unfair subsidies to ship building companies in the European Community which are handicapping the British ship building industry in terms of merchant shipping orders.

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman makes a fair point and I have considerable sympathy with what he says about that. The Government's plans for the future naval fleet, including those recently announced for amphibious forces, will provide excellent opportunities for Swan Hunter to bid to obtain more orders. On the subject of equitability across Europe, our aim is to establish that and competitive conditions for all United Kingdom ship builders as soon as possible at national and international levels. We shall certainly keep up the pressure to achieve that, in the interests of Swan Hunter and many other fine firms in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

On his way to Wallsend, will my right hon. Friend visit the north-west of the United Kingdom, and the borough of Macclesfield in particular? If he does, he will find an area ready to respond to the sound foundations of the economy that he and the Government have established.

The Prime Minister

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his very warm support. I had the opportunity to visit the north-west on Monday, where I found a good deal of buoyancy and confidence in the future of the north-west and of the country as a whole.

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